MOSCOW, July 27 (RIA Novosti)
Russia’s controversial election chief dressed up as a character from a Jules Verne novel and flew into a pro-Kremlin youth camp in a hot-air balloon on Friday.
Election chief Vladimir Churov landed at the Seliger camp some 350km from Moscow in a red hot-air balloon wearing a skipper’s cap and a t-shirt with the words “Cyrus Smith" written on it, an election committee official told RIA Novosti.
Cyrus Smith is a character from Jules Verne’s 1847 novel The Mysterious Island.
“He landed on the mysterious island of Seliger as Cyrus Smith,” the election official said.
Churov was dubbed “the wizard” by opposition activists after Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party secured a majority at last December’s disputed parliamentary polls.
He also provoked further criticism by dubbing the March presidential elections that returned Putin to the Kremlin “the most open, honest and transparent" in the world.”
Churov makes no secret of his support for Russia’s president and has declared on a number of occasions “My first rule is that Putin is always right.”
He will hold a lecture on "How to Organize Democractic Elections" at the camp later today.
The Lake Seliger camp gathers pro-Kremlin activists for almost a month of discussions and forums.
A number of opposition figures were invited to attend debates at this year’s event. But Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov declined his invitation on Thursday over continuing arrests in connection with clashes between police and protesters at a May 6 anti-Putin rally in downtown Moscow.
“While the authorities continue to fill the prisons with opposition representatives, there is no sense in going to Seliger,” Udaltsov wrote in a Twitter post.
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News that Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin would resign in order to run for the mayoral election in September came as quite a shock. Sobyanin’s political potential is fairly dubious, not to mention his approval ratings. He has not finished many of the projects he initiated and the electoral effect from these projects is expected to come a bit later than September 2013. Sobyanin’s opponents were not entirely unprepared for this blitzkrieg.